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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Comments on the Regnerus Study

There is a new study out being touted by Catholic and Anti-Gay Marriage believers as proving that same-sex parent (SSP) families are uniquely detrimental to children.  To them, this is another reason that Same Sex Marriage should not be supported.

As Catholics, American's, and human being's endowed with intellect and rational function, we have a responsibility not only to seek the fullness of Truth according to reality, but to uphold, support, and defend the Truth through realistic, prudent, and valid means.  Therefore, I would like to examine this study to see what actual conclusions can be drawn from it concerning the same-sex marriage issue.

First however, to remove any doubt of my bias, let me share my views concerning SSM.  I believe marriage is a Sacrament between a man and a woman, a reflection of the Trinitarian nature of God, for the purpose of begetting and raising children in a God centered environment.  Therefore, I believe that any form of legislation endorsing same sex union is contrary to the will of God.  For various theological, philosophical, psychological, legal and social reasons, same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry nor adopt or birth children.  Furthermore, the raising of a child by a same sex couple after a heterosexual divorce provides complicated legal issues that could also be avoided by a marriage amendment.

That being said, the idea presented in this study that SSP is significantly and uniquely detrimental to the child being raised is, from a scientific paradigm, contrary to prior studies I have read, specifically one by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association*, but also numerous other studies (some of which even suggest children of SSP are actually better adjusted than even IBF's**).  However, Mr. Regnerus addresses the reliability of these studies in his article and thus appropriate doubt could be shed on their findings concerning their contrary views.

Futhermore, there are sources  pointing out the flaws of the study (anything from sample-size, its specific cohort as being unrepresentative, to unreliable measures) and while some of these arguments are more valid than others, they seriously handicap the ability of this study to be used in public discourse.  Of course, any secular instituion, most of which are in favor of SSM, will find a way to attack this study. However, Mark Regnerus himself says that the study has some weaknesses, does not say anything specifically about the morality of SSP, and should not be used to defend any political position.  I mostly agree with these criticisms--the study, in what and how it measures, is extremely limited in its findings, though there is some valuable information to be gleaned.

What can we take away from this study?  First, it must be noted that in nearly any scientific study dealing with this subject, the spiritual aspect of the child is ignored, and in that concern I believe that no SSP can ever be spiritually healthy for the child involved, as it presents an intrinsically disordered representation of love, sex, marriage, and natural law.  In general however, this study supports the opinion that, while SSP is no worse than divorce, step parentage, and single parent families, the benefits that proceed from an intact biological family cannot be ignored.  Traditional marriage is the best chance a child has at a healthy, spiritually fulfilling life and a realistic portrayal of love and sex.

What does all this mean for Catholics and Marriage Amendment supporters?  This study is not the savior of the Marriage Amendment cause, so please do not treat it as such.  The very sketchy and limited nature of the study, and the fact that most people are skeptical of it, means that it is very unlikely to help you win any arguments, or convince people to even more closely examine their views.  It is important as Catholics that we use all the tools (science, philosophy, revelation, etc.) to adequately support our point, and that we don't use an illogical, purely passionate, or invalid argument just because it supports our view.  This does not win us any respect.  Mark Regnerus' study has some points with which we can use as a piece of the scaffold in our argument, but it is in no way sound enough to stand on its own, nor does it disable the opponents argument concerning SSP and child well-being.  We must continue this fight in prayer, peaceful and respectful discourse, and with a firm handle on Truth and reality.

*cf. Carole E. Allen, James E. Crawford, Mark Del Monte, Jane M. Foy, Miriam Kaufman, Jonathan D. Klein, et al. “The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-Being of Children” Pediatrics. 118.1 (July 2006) p349)

** "Intact Biological Families"--I disagree with this conclusion based on merely spiritual grounds, but the point is that there are varying degrees of sound science which finds different views on the matter.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Adoration Meditation: Loving Your Enemy

The Background

Yesterday the fiance and I went to Adoration for some much needed prayer time.  On the way there we had a discussion which left me with a topic to pray about (even though I didn't necessarily want to).

I'm working in a parish again, and it has its stressful moments.  The actions and words of various people, inside the parish and out (abortion and HHS debates, rude drivers, control freaks, and just generally uncharitable people), have made me question why some people can even call themselves Catholics (for they in no way act like it), and unfortunately I have started to lose faith in humanity, the Church, and its people.

Worst of all, I have found a growth of hate in my heart, and it was this very thing I wanted to take to prayer before the Blessed Eucharist.  It's hard to feel hate in front of the embodiment of love.

On our way there we were nearly hit (and likely seriously injured) by a driver who was at the very least distracted, but most likely made a stupid or selfish decision to turn left (I realized later that I really should give him the benefit of the doubt).  I made a comment that I should have hit him as a matter of justice, to which my fiance began to lecture me about God's mercy.  So, considering I have, as of late, lost sight of God's mercy, that is how I decided to approach the topic in prayer.

The Meditation

I opened the book of Psalms (one of my favorite books, especially in times of trouble) and started reading from the beginning.  After about 7 of them, I realized something--the Old Testament is filled with examples of people calling to God for Justice.  In the Old Testament, this was natural and perfectly acceptable, as God was the deliverer of his people, and Israel trusted him to judge their oppressors.  Furthermore, it was this belief in justice after life, that the wicked would parish and the good would be united with him, that gives Christians the consolation they need to not kill or seriously maim those incredibly stupid people (I exaggerate...but only a bit).

I realized however, that Jesus calls to more than that--though asking God to rain down judgement on those who have hurt us (my fiance' pointed out the story of James and John) may be acceptable and sometimes just, it not what the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross calls us to.  We are called, in fact, to wish that that person is actually received into heaven.

This is hard, because in doing that, we are left with no consolation of Justice, except for our own reception and union with him.  I relate it to the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in which everyone, even those who worked less, gets paid the same amount.  This parable, and this act of giving up our own consolation of judgment is SO hard for humans because it is contrary to our nature as human beings.  Mercy is divine, and thus it can only be given through the help of Christ.

We should all only be concerned with how WE will be judged, and furthermore, be seeking to help others "get paid" by receiving the beatific vision.  This is impossible to do ourselves, and thus the only way to truly love, is to let Christ love through you.